Climate Science Misrepresented by New Mexico Energy Secretary

Silencing Science Tracker

Climate Science Misrepresented by New Mexico Energy Secretary

During his confirmation hearing on March 8, 2017, Secretary of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department Ken McQueen questioned the scientific consensus on climate change. While scientists agree that global average temperature are increasing at an unprecedented rate, Secretary McQueen suggested that similar temperature variations have occurred historically, stating:

“I think climate change has been with us since the beginning of time . . . it’s quite clear there were times in our history when the earth was colder than it is today and there were times when it was hotter than it is today.”

Secretary McQueen also questioned whether human activities are the primary cause of climate change, arguing that “climate change is just part of the history of the world we live in.” The Secretary sought to downplay the climate and other environmental impacts of fossil fuel extraction. When asked about an anomalously large concentration of methane over part of New Mexico, which scientists have linked to oil and gas activity in the region, Secretary McQueen stated:

“My personal opinion is that the methane hotspot has existed for at least the last 10 million” and is naturally occurring.

The Secretary attributed the hotspot to methane leaking from geologic formations, contradicting scientific research showing much of it originates from natural gas wells, pipelines, and storage tanks.

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